SHIVER me timbers! Captain Jack Sparrow has helped inspire a Doncaster schoolboy to become one of the best swordsmen in Yorkshire.
Ridgewood School pupil Nathan Jopling was so impressed when he saw the hit film Pirates of the Caribbean he decided to try his hand at a bit of swashbuckling sword action himself.
Now the 11-year-old from Shelley Grive, Sprotbrough, is one of the best fencers of his age group in England, specialising in the sabre, and has just won his first Yorkshire-wide title.
Proud dad Ian remembers taking his son to see the pirate film when he was five.
He said: “He was obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean when he was younger.
“We took him to see the film at what was then the Warner Brothers cinema near The Dome. He loved anything to do with pirates. I wasn’t sure whether to take him at the time, but he loved it.
“Soon after that he saw some children having fencing lessons on the television, and said, ‘I want to do that’.
“I thought it would pass, but he kept wanting to try it. The next thing was that he joined Doncaster Fencing Club at Hall Cross Lower School in Bessacarr.
“It surprised us when he said he wanted to try fencing, but I think it was obviously to do with the pirate thing. I didn’t think it would last, but it certainly has and he is still fencing.”
Now Nathan has just won his first regional competition, taking gold in the first leg of the Yorkshire League under- 14s competition. Last year he was seventh in the British under-12s championship, held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
He travels all over the country with his sport, with his furthest trip away taking him to Glastonbury. He also spends several days away during the year at a summer school, learning from experts.
Ian has now taken up the sport himself to try to learn all about the terms used.
Nathan may be a bit too young for London 2012 - but his dream is to eventually compete in the Olympics.